Week 39. John Whitmore could realistically arrive any day now. Or it could be another three weeks before we meet him. As his due date creeps closer and closer, my husband and I know that it’s only a matter of time- but at this point, only John knows how much time. Every morning I wake up and wonder, “Is today going to be the day?” Every day that I drive into work, I have to ask myself, “Will I go into labor while I’m sitting in my office?” Every time I begin to teach a class, I find myself worrying that my water will break in front of a bunch of eighth grade students. But so far, every night I fall asleep knowing that we’ve made it through another day without incident. Every night I give thanks that I am one day closer to the beginning of my days of working from home.
Last Sunday I taught my last Confirmation class. This past Tuesday I held my last Youth Night. Sunday was my last CCD class. Tomorrow will be my last service activity at the parish. Andrew has accompanied me to most of these events, but there has still been a degree of uncertainty. We don’t know when JT will decide to make his first appearance in this world. We don’t know when labor will begin, or how quickly it will progress. We do know that it’s a 45 minute drive from our apartment to the hospital, and from both of our jobs to our apartment. Forty-five minutes can be a very long time, especially when you’re in labor.
Every day, we pray that JT will wait until his due date to make his first appearance in this world. We pray that everything will go smoothly, that we will arrive at the hospital safely and in a timely manner, that JT will be born healthy. We can hope, but we obviously can’t be sure. JT will work on his own schedule. Ultimately, he’ll arrive exactly when he wants to, and no amount of stress and worry will change that. And I think this is just our first lesson in being parents. In the weeks following JT’s birth, Andrew and I will have the difficult task of establishing some sort of “schedule” to fulfill his needs. We will need to learn how often he will nurse, how often he will nap, how long his naps will last, and how often we’ll need to change his diapers. We’ll have to figure out the best times for sleep, showers, exercise, work, and shopping trips. After my maternity leave ends, I’ll have to figure out how to balance being a mother and being a DRE and Youth Minister. I will need to figure out how to fit work between nursing sessions, playtime, and naps. And I’ll need to figure out how to do all of this on less than my usual 8.5 hours of sleep.
Before I got married, the only person that I needed to consider was myself. I ate when I wanted to eat, slept when I wanted to sleep, exercised when I wanted to exercise, and showered when I wanted to shower. The only part of my life that was pre-determined were my hours in the classroom or at work. When I wasn’t in school or at work, my time was my own. I did with it what I wanted to do. I didn’t have to worry about satisfying the needs of anyone else. It sounds selfish, but this is simply the life of a single woman. Of course I thought about the feelings of my friends and family, but their needs rarely prevented me from eating, sleeping, and exercising whenever I wanted. Life was about fulfilling my needs.
After I got married, the amount of people that I needed to consider when I made decisions doubled. Now it wasn’t just me. It was Andrew and me. I couldn’t just heat up soup for dinner anymore; I actually needed to cook, to make sure that Andrew and I were both eating a balanced diet of grains, meat, veggies, and fruit. Andrew and I needed to work out a shower schedule when we both had places to go at the same time. Sometimes, I needed to postpone my workout to run an errand for Andrew, or I needed to stay at home for a day because Andrew needed to borrow my car when his had a flat tire. I had to make sacrifices for him, to rearrange my schedule to fit our needs, but he also was more than willing to make all sorts of sacrifices for me as well.
Even after we found out that we had become parents, our lives didn’t change much. We knew that we were now a family of three, but for the most part, it still felt like just Andrew and me. Yes, my unborn child had needs, but they were mostly met by meeting my own. I needed to eat well, but I was already in the habit of eating healthily. I needed to exercise, but I was already walking daily. I needed to get rest, but I was already used to getting a full 8.5 hours of sleep a night. Though I know that I have already had to make sacrifices for my son, they never really felt like sacrifices. Yes, I gained weight, but I was eating well, exercising, and I even had the opportunity to buy lots of new clothing. Yes, it was more difficult to walk up and down stairs because of the added pressure on my already asthma-laden lungs, but this just gave me an excuse to rest periodically through the day. Andrew began doing our laundry (the laundry room was four floors down from our apartment) without a fuss. When my morning sickness prevented me from cooking and/or washing the dishes, Andrew readily began cooking and washing the dishes himself. Over the past eight and a half months of marriage, we have both learned how to make sacrifices for each other. We have also settled into a very efficient routine, meeting our own needs and making sure that each other’s needs are satisfied as well.
Both of our lives changed when we got married. In a few weeks (or days), our lives will change again. We will have another set of needs to consider, and this time, we will be the only ones who can make sure his needs are met. JT will not be able to take care of his own needs. He will not be able to feed himself, change his own diaper, or give himself a bath. He won’t be able to put himself down for a nap or dress himself. He won’t even be able to lift up his own head at first. He will be completely dependent on us, his parents, to make sure that he gets all the care and love that he needs. He will need us to put our own needs aside on a daily basis to guarantee that his needs are met. He will need us to make sacrifices, to abandon our own routines from time to time. Our lives are going to change a lot, but Andrew and I are okay with that. We love our son already, though we have not yet laid eyes on him even, and we would do anything for him.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!